HEROIN shooting galleries would encourage youngsters to try drugs, critics have warned.

Critics of controversial heroin consumption rooms have hit back after MP Caroline Lucas suggested that the increasing numbers of needles being found on the city's streets should prompt a renewed debate about safe places for addicts to take drugs.

However charity workers and local councillors have said they are strongly opposed to the idea.

Brighton and Hove City Councillor Dawn Barnett said: "I think it is ludicrous.

Silly 18 year olds who have never tried drugs will think it is safe.

We shouldn't be in any way encouraging drugs.

"We are already seen as a tolerant city, and if we had centres like this we would have all the waifs and strays from all over the country flocking here.

"This city will be seen as a laughing stock. Drugs destroy families and relationships."

To encourage drug addicts to go to those sorts of places is sending the wrong message.

"We need more visible policing and people need to be told their money will be cut."

Business owners told The Argus they feared that a rise in visible drug taking was down to a lack of police on the streets.

One trader told The Argus she had seen a man pull his trousers down in broad daylight and inject himself in the street.

On Saturday morning Argus staff had to remove two women taking drugs on the doorstep of our Manchester Street office before being able to access the newsroom.

The issue of safe places where addicts can inject medical heroin was suggested during a debate on drugs in the city in 2013.

Andy Winter, director of Brighton Housing Trust, repeated his long held concerns.

He said that in his experience of working with homeless communities discussions about consumption rooms often overshadowed discussion over treatment and rehabilitation for addicts.

In Friday's Argus Brighton Pavilion MP Ms Lucas reignited the debate.

She said:“We urgently need better ways to reach out and save lives.

“I believe our city should revisit the idea of drug consumption rooms – safe and supervised places where addicts can inject or inhale illicit substances without fear of prosecution and with a much reduced impact on the community too.”